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Movies Worldwide

In: Business and Management

Submitted By aquintan
Words 3243
Pages 13
Question 1
Why have American films been so successful over the last half century? Outline what you consider to be key success factors for a film (type of story and genre; actors; directors, pace, music, and so on). Was the fascination for the American culture and way of life the prominent reason for that success? What was the contribution of the American melting pot with its huge diversity of migrants’ origins to the creativity and global outlook of the American movie industry?
There are several reasons for the success of American movies: the budget, the Hollywood brand, the directors and the universal themes that appeal to a broad public. When the production can cover most of its costs by the local profit, it allows for a relatively low selling price to the foreign distributors. A large budget also makes it possible to use expensive actors with a recognized name that attracts visitors, as well as developing an efficient distribution system.
The US has the most prominent country-brand equity in the world, which has without a doubt contributed to the Hollywood success. Therefore one might say that the fascination for American culture has helped their movie industry, but there are too many other factors to say that this is the main reason for its success.
Several of the well renowned Hollywood directors have origins outside of the US. This knowledge of more than one culture might have contributed to a more international touch to their films, appealing to many different cultures, ethnic groups or religions. In addition they often use “the method”, a non-verbal style in interpreting roles, which is easy to understand even if you do not understand English or subtitles are poor. This minimization of language can be substituted by the use of visuals. All the mentioned factors for success are important, but the most critical one in our view is the formula, the so called the “recipe of American movies”. The stories of the majority of the movies from the US are simple, universal, relatively context free and easy to capture with happy endings and fairy tales stories. This was confirmed by Reed Martin’s analysis revealing six characteristics of American films: a fast pace, sexual tension, graphic violence, repetition of a fable or storyline, and a happy or spectacular ending (http://www.newrules.org/environment/article/culture-thief)[1]
Question 2
What is the future of local films? Should they still target a local language and culture audience?
To avoid ambiguity, a producer that sells movies abroad and thus deliberately targets several markets from the beginning we consider as a global producer (Hollywood producers, Bollywood producers, etc.). A local producer exports the movie only if it becomes a huge success and if there is demand from foreign countries. In some countries such as France, Italy and Czech Republic local producers have comfortable market shares (See appendix 1), but this is not the case in most countries. For example Germany and China, which are big markets, (Germany: top 10: ~400m$; China: ~150m$) are quite saturated with movies from global producers. Accordingly, it is not the size of the market that determines if there is room for local movies to exist. The reason for the local producer’s success must have another explanation.
As mentioned earlier in question 1, to appeal to a universal audience most Hollywood movies contain simplified story lines. The local movies on the other hand, often have cultural obstacles suggesting certain clues in the local environment; traditions, particular way of interaction, local humor and even certain actors’ characteristics. This makes local movies less identifiable for the global viewer.
Additionally there are the language barriers, as the majority of the movies is in local languages. Altogether this creates the impression of something unknown as opposed to the mainstream Hollywood movies. The author of the famous book ”European cinema face to face with Hollywood” explains: “The spatial parameters of European cinema are place-based and context-dependent so that the films carry clear linguistic boundaries and geographic markers, their reference points are specific in location and time; Hollywood is less a particular place, and “more a state of mind”. (p.39, “European cinema face to face with Hollywood”) [2] These factors often lead to local movies to be positioned towards “niche” markets globally. Teri Ritzer, Vice President of Disney's overseas distribution arm agrees: “The easiest films to sell are action, adventure or physical comedy - things that don't require a lot of language translations, among the hardest things to sell are films laden with conversation, or culture-specific references”. (http://www.newrules.org/environment/article/culture-thief)[3]
Nevertheless, there are recent examples of globally recognized local films such as “La vita e bella”, Italian movie with Roberto Benigni and the French storytelling film “Amélie de Montmartre”, suggesting that consumers also have an eye for the locally produced movies. One of the reasons might exactly be the contrasting experience to the Hollywood movies. “There is a need for cultural diversity; cultural pluralism may be productive of a marketplace in ideas. In an era of increasing homogeneity and growing convergence, we need to protect the natural occurrence of culture in the same way that environmentalism has come to emphasize biodiversity." – argued by Chi Carmody (http://www.newrules.org/environment/article/culture-thief).[4]
Speaking of the protection of the national film industries, many governments provide subsidized filmmaking that fosters the local cultural “heritage”. To illustrate, European Union have a film and media policy, including financing and different funding organizations such as “Le Centre National de la Cinématographie (FR)” (http://korda.obs.coe.int/archives/index). [5] Moreover, Berlin International Film Festival and other European awards have been established to create recognition and publicity for national films.
Another important factor explaining the viability of the local films is the fact that local films often require an extra “pitch” to be able to captivate the attention of the consumers. The majority of the local films often have budget limitations that make it impossible to employ big stars, use advanced visual effects and extensive marketing – with the consequence of having less mass appeal. To compensate for this, local producers are often forced to make films without these resources and create a “different” movie to gain attention, but without directly challenging Hollywood movies. A good example is the development of the Italian film industry after the World War II, in lack of financial resources producers used non experienced actors and created a legacy for Italian movies worldwide.
To summarize, there are many challenges for the local film industries, but it still attracts consumers. In our opinion, local producers should not necessary aim for the international success. In fact, as implied by the author of “Face to Face with Hollywood”; “From the perspective of Hollywood, it makes little difference whether one is talking about the Indian cinema or the Dutch cinema, the French cinema or the Chilean cinema: none is a serious competitor for America’s domestic output, but each national cinema is a “market” for American films, while still keeping some place for the locals.”( p. 467, European Cinema: face-to-face with Hollywood ) [6]
This way, international success is more a result than an objective, something that will happen when the local director’s creativity attracts the attention of the global consumer.

Question 3
If you were a ROW film director, willing to reach a wider audience, how would you go about increasing your chances to be accepted by the audience in a larger number of countries?
“The art of cinema is, by definition, a cocktail of disciplines: writing, acting, shooting, scoring. But on top of that, there is that indefinable, intangible something that makes a movie special. It's not about budget, or James Cameron's Avatar would be everyone's favorite. It's about much more than that: a classic movie is quite simply a phenomenon, a lightning bolt trapped in a bottle, a colossus to be aped but never equaled, no matter how hard its rivals try”. (http://www.guardian.co.uk/studio-canal-collection/what-makes-a- classic-movie)[7]
Reaching a wider audience is not easy, especially when a big part of the market is already captured by the global giant, Hollywood. It is a challenging mission but not impossible. In our opinion, it is important to implicate the spectator, to bond with him and to capture his feelings. If you are able to make your global audience identify themselves in your movie, regardless of origin, culture, gender or religion, then you have created a global success. However, if you standardize all movies to “fit” with the commercial American movies, you destroying art and depriving the world average spectator of enriching himself from the contact with other cultures and realities.
If a ROW director is trying to produce a “global hit” he should focus on simple universal feelings, values and international topics of interest that are easy identified by many people (children labor, slavery, war, poverty, women rights, etc). Thus, we would look for shared values and connections among cultures in context free situations. In fact, we are also convinced that movies should not lose their local identity, but the global spectator should manage to project his own life in the movie no matter the origin.
To catch the world’s attention, the story should be interesting, but not difficult to follow and understand. Including traditional characteristics of local cultures such as music, dancing and landscape to spice up the story takes the spectator to a “new world”. Nowadays people are showing more interest in other cultures, an obvious example of success is Japanese movies productions such as animations of manga that has attracted attention all over the world. Knowing that US movies dominate the global scene, ROW directors have to change the way of penetrating the market. The first issue to address is defining your target market; what audience do you want to reach? Where do you want to go? What is the objective of the movie? How do you want to position it? How are you going to promote it? It is clear that for a film to be globally successful it needs a lot of marketing. But nowadays, there are many ways of promoting a new film that does not necessarily require a big budget. There is an enormous potential in the social networks and Web 2.0. “Customers have become smarter and they will settle for nothing less than an awesome web-based experience.”( http://smedio.com/2010/07/26/the-future-of-advertising-in-a-web-2-0- world/)[8] The closer connection to consumers will allow marketers the opportunity to build significant worldwide fan bases long before a film hits the big screen. (http://www.imediaconnection.com/content/9947.asp)[9] You can promote a movie trailer to millions of people around the globe in just one day. Big studio films aren't the only ones making the most of the Internet. The makers of independent and short films are also using the web as a platform to showcase their work. Moviefone.com's Short Film Festival is just one example. If you manage to make a really creative advertising campaign you would definitely attract many people and the attention of media; radio, television, newspapers and expert critiques can be free advertisement. Printed posters are still a good traditional option of movie advertisement, but the most efficient type of promotion in the end is the “mouth to mouth” itself. To make people talk about your movie, you have to create a quality product that speaks for itself.
The real quality of a movie cannot be judged only by a fascinating trailer or a great advertising campaign. Of course these two communication tools have a huge influence on customer’s decisions, but to reach a wider audience in a short time, the critics play an important role as well. They allow viewers to acquire additional information in order to help in their choices for the movies. Thanks to this, the spectator can define the unique value of the movie that is even important to be known as non-American producer worldwide. For example the movie “Underground” directed by Kustoriza, won an award in Cannes and attracted a lot of public.
To conclude, a creator of a successful ROW movie definitely has to keep its local features, but choosing a topic that appeals to the masses, being creative and differentiating by adding a personal touch together with global advertising might help. After all, “film is about more than special effects — it is about affecting the lives of people” (http://www.florencenewspaper.it/vediarticolo.asp?id=a7.06.01.17.44)[10]
Question 4
Are films are primarily artistic pieces or are they commodities? Should films be seen as an industry or as an art?
The product is to be characterized as “commodity good” if it meets certain criteria. “A commodity is a good that is produced or sold by many different companies or countries. In addition to being sold by many different entities, it also has to be indistinguishable from the product of another company or country”. (http://www.finweb.com/investing/the-definition-of-a-commodity.html)[11]
In other words, commodities are not unique. When it comes to the movies can one apply the same principle?
It is widely known that most Hollywood film studios “scrutinize” every script before creating a movie. To gain from mass effect and create popularity producers are continually adopting their scripts, re- shooting the scenes and pre-testing the films with the public, altering the films to the responses and according to critics. And thus, these mainstream movies are being created to fit to the consumers demands, rather than being the creative expression of an artist. In fact, most of the mainstream Hollywood movies are seen as “cash-crackers”, and most Hollywood studios regard movies as”business as usual products” rather than labeling them as art pieces.
In fact, during the Uruguay Round of GATT negotiations in 1993, the Americans argued for the trade of movies and television programs to be included in the treaty. "When we're talking about cinema, I think it's largely a commercial issue and not a cultural issue" says Peter Morici, director of the U.S. International Trade Commission from 1988 to 1993. (http://www.newrules.org/environment/article/culture-thief) [12]
Arguing with the statement “movie as commodity”, Chi Carmody, responds in his recent article on cultural protection:” Culture cannot be treated as just another commodity. Cultural products do not fit well within a scheme of comparative advantage, upon which trade is based”. (http://www.newrules.org/environment/article/culture-thief)[13]
5
By Stefania Auciello, Marc Grimm, Olya Panina, Anaïs Gilbert and Camilla Heggelund
Many different definitions of art exist. Benedetto Croce and R.G. Collingwood describe art as a way that “expresses emotions, and that the work of art therefore essentially exists in the mind of the creator”. (http://www.free-press-release.com/news-the-general-concept-of-art-1288001076.html )[14]
Undoubtedly, your senses, emotions and intellect are influenced by movies. Most people have cried, felt sadness or happiness during a movie. Some movies affect your mood, while others go further and actually change your point of view for certain issues and affect your real-life decisions. Certain movies are unique and unforgettable, becoming an experience and a memory for lifetime. Still, can it be called “art”? As suggested earlier, mainstream movies have 6 typical elements with the focus on the traditional storytelling plot. (http://www.newrules.org/environment/article/culture-thief)[15] These movies are created according to the success formula with pre-set expectations and outcomes which create the impression that movies are just a commodity product.
Nonetheless, some movies challenge viewers to look at the movie from different angles then it’s mostly present in the mainstream movies: these artistic movies offering challenging visual and thematic context, experimenting with various film styles, narrative forms and shooting techniques make these movies stand out from the mainstream. Not only do they ignore the “common values” commonly used in Hollywood productions: there are not only bad and good guys, the story is not black-and-white and according to the expectations of the viewer. Its most significant difference is the fact that it ferociously rejects the notion of “film as a commodity” through not allowing their movie to be shaped by the demands and the expectations of the public. In fact, “it surpasses their designated essences as commodities and they become a medium through which the director can communicate with the audience”. (http://mubi.com/notebook/posts/242 )[16] These movies shift away from the traditional mainstream movies that focus on explanatory storytelling and deliberately leave out the clear explanations of the plot. One example of such movies is the Spanish film “Jamon, Jamon” (1992). This melodramatic comedy plays satire on the cultural elements such as typical spanish food: ham, garlic and connects it to the intimacy and won the Silver Lion award at the 1992 Venice Film Festival.
Moreover, Chi Carmody, in his recent article on cultural protection advocates:” Culture cannot be treated as just another commodity. Cultural products do not fit well within a scheme of comparative advantage, upon which trade is based”. (http://www.newrules.org/environment/article/culture-thief)[17] Obviously, both views of movies as “commodities” or “art” have many advocates on each side. Taking into account the difference of these statements, one should allow for the existence of the two different views on the films production, without the need to choose between “art” and “industry”. In fact, both views have their distinguished features and occupying different “movie status” in the minds of consumers, creating a world where both art and commodity films can co-exist without being in direct competition to one another. However, in the end it is always going to be room for discussion and there is definitely a grey area of what can be related to art and what cannot. Undoubtedly, these issues will depend on the personal preferences and considerations of the viewer, influenced by the cultural context.

References
[1] R.Martin, (1995)“The French film industry: A crisis of art and commerce”, The Columbia Journal of World Business 30 (4), 6-17 Available from :
[2] T. Elsaesser (2005) European Cinema: face-to-face with Hollywood. Amsterdam: Amsterdam University Press
[3] F.Shapiro (2000). The culture Thief Available from:
[4] C.Carmody (1999) “When ‘Cultural Identity was not at Issue”: Thinking about Canada – Certain Measures concerning Periodicals», 30 Law and policy in international business, p. 231 at 255 Available from:
[5] Database on public funding for film and audiovisual works in Europe Available from:
[6] idem [2] [7] What makes a movie classic?Guardian.co.uk
Available from: [8] Douglas Idugboe (2010) The Future of Advertising in a Web 2.0 World
Available from: < http://smedio.com/2010/07/26/the-future-of-advertising-in-a-web-2-0-world/> [9] (2006) Marketing Movies, the Web 2.0 Way Imedia Connection.com
Available from: [10] J.Graybill (2007) Neorealism and its Influences upon Italian Cinema of the 1900s.
Available from: [11] Available from: [12] idem [3] [13] idem [3]
[14] (2010) The general concept of art. Free press release.com Available from: [15] idem [1] [16] H.Cillov (2008) New Punk cinema, rowing against the tradition of film commodity Available from:
[17] idem [4]

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